A large part of the job-description for any leader, whether or not it actually shows up in a written job description, involves the task of putting out fires. In any organization, small fires spring up all the time: unsatisfied customers, disgruntled employees, non-compliance issues, under-performing reports, miscommunication, and a host of other issues can dominate the leader's time if he/she isn't careful.

Most of the fires the leader is called to put out are inconsequential. Then again, so are most cigarettes, but just one left unattended can destroy an entire forest. So, firefighting is a necessary part of the leader's job.

What isn't a necessary part of the leader's job is fighting the same fire over and over. If you find yourself dealing with the issue over and over, you either (1) haven't really ever extinguished the fire or (2) missed the source of the fire altogether.

You'll save yourself a lot of time if you do some work on the front-end and back-end of firefighting making sure the presenting issue is really the issue that needs to be dealt with, and that the fire has been extinguished rather than simply minimized at the end.